Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Alternatives to standard pencils

While a standard #2 pencil works just fine for most students, many students prefer to use an alternative type of pencil when writing. Today I'll review some alternatives to standard pencils that I have used with students and why I like each one.

Golf Pencils | I often start students, especially young students (Pre-K and Kindergarten), with golf pencils because they fit so well in small hands. Despite what you may used back when you were in Kindergarten (I know I still remember getting a big, fat pencil as part of my back to school supplies), please remember, Small Hands = Small Pencil. I've found that older students sometimes find them easier to manipulate as well.

PenAgain Twist 'n Write | I have only used this pencil with students who have physical limitations and are unable to hold a pencil using a functional grasp. I have found this pencil works especially well with children who have muscle tightness in their hands, such as children with cerebral palsy.

Mechanical Pencils | I often recommend mechanical pencils for students who press too hard when writing. This works for some students, but for other students it is too frustrating and an erasable pen might be a better option. If you press too hard when using a mechanical pencil, it causes the pencil lead to break, which teaches some students to press more lightly, and just frustrates other students! Mechanical pencils can also be a good option for students who are easily distracted by trips to the pencil sharpener.

Pilot FriXion Ball Pen, Erasable Gel Ink, Fine Point, Assorted Colors 3 pack: Black, Blue, Red (FX7C3001)
Pilot FriXion Ball Pen | Last spring I saw a student using this pen and I had to check it out. This is an erasable pen that uses friction to erase the writing. Some students, especially those who do not press hard enough when writing, prefer writing in pen. Using a pen requires less pressure, which can decrease hand fatigue. I like this pen because it writes very smoothly. Oh, and because it's erasable! I'm so glad that there are some good, erasable pens on the market. (Side note: I saw these Frixion erasable highlighters when I was at Staples the other day. I was so intrigued by an erasable highlighter that it took all of my willpower to not buy them!)


Sharpie Liquid Pencil | I used this pencil with a student last year who really loved it, so I was surprised to see all of the bad reviews on Amazon. It's very similar to the Frixion Erasable Pen, except that it is liquid graphite. It would occasionally require the use of extra pressure to write, so I would say the Frixion Pen was a little better. I would use it with the same type of students who prefer an erasable pen, so it's really just personal preference between this liquid pencil and the erasable pen. My student said that he liked this pencil because it didn't make noise when he wrote. Talk about auditory sensitivity if the sound of a regular #2 pencil bothers you!

Cheryl of OT Notes told me that her favorite alternative pencil is the Bic Mini Grip mechanical pencil because of its small size and built in sensory grip. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl! This is one that I will definitely have to check out!

*This post contains affiliate links.

What pencil alternatives have you found work well with your students?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post. My son has been struggling with writing for a few years (he's in the third grade). Yesterday he came home SO excited about a pen his OT specialist recommended but didn't remember the name. I sent her this post and sure enough the Frixon is the pen!


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